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Grant Gerke writes about manufacturing, factory and plant automation, packaging, electric cars and renewables for business and consumer media sites.

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Monday
Mar052012

Targeting Mom, Tesla's Model X?

Source: Flickr Tesla MotorsA recent article regarding the Tesla Motor's Model X focuses on the "mommy" aspects of the hybrid SUV. This lead me to think, if Tesla can build these EV cars/SUVs, they might succeed. More specific, the Tesla Model X SUV should be the model that pushes this car company to profitability and unthought levels of success if they know how to build these cars on any scale. 

Why will this succeed? Marketing, plain and simple. Think Rolling Stones without the bad boy image, they're the Hollies and never heard after 1968. The SUV is a beautiful looking vehicle (pimped out mini-van) and this San Jose Mercury article, see below, talks about how women were an integral part of of focus groups last year. Tesla wanted input on the internal features of the car, such as easy access to kids' car seats, safety and a third row of seating. As the article says, functionality was expressed. 

However, what Tesla has been doing from the beginning with its designs is making one attractive looking vehicle. In my mind, this is key to U.S. car buyers (along with better battery technology). Imagine the heads turning in the neighborhood, at the company picnic and gymnastic meets. 

With the Tesla X, the "mini-van" essentials are there, but the intrinsic nature of something this eye-catching and did we mention you plug it in (ohhh, tell me more). And you're doing the smart thing--creating a better future for your kids--and you're doing it in a really attractive car. 

I get the feeling that Tesla knows marketing. So if they can build automotives, they should be in for a long future.

Wednesday
Nov232011

Wow, 250 mpg for the volt

A volt being displayed at a Fox Valley Electric Vehicle meeting last June, avg. 250 mpg for a member.

Tuesday
Nov222011

Battery Developments via Chicago

Woke up this Sunday morning and found a lithium ion battery development in my reeder stream….love that iPad app. It's really hard to follow all the lithium battery announcements (so many), but this one is exciting for two reasons: 1) another development using silicon; and 2) lithium batteries w/ silicon is close to reaching the market and is a huge leap forward for electric vehicle batteries if it works. In fact, Panasonic will start selling LI batteries with silicon in 2013. It will use a silicon alloy node to reach an energy capacity of 4 amp hours, a 30 percent improvement of the highest energy cell available today.  

Getting back to this recent announcement, researchers at Northwestern Univ. released a research paper, titled, "In-Plane Vacancy-Enabled High-Power Si-Graphene Composite Electrode for LIthium-Ion Batteries." The new research points to the viability of using silicon for electric vehicles. The reason? A new structure in the electrode--where electricity is conducted--minimizes "expansion and contraction" of silicon when it reacts with lithium. In effect, it "sandwiches" silicon so it does not 'wear" out the electrochemical battery structure. For a deeper dive about the battery technology, visit here

The lead author of the paper is Harold H. Kung, professor of chemical and biological engineering. From this research, he says, Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today." 

Some context on Silicon/Lithium batteries

Stanford professor named Yi Cui is also dreaming of a silicon/lithium wonderland for batteries, too. In 2008, he introduced the concept of "nanowires" that could replace carbon in the anode. Nanowires addresses "swelling" and "contraction" by shrinking to sizes where mechanical strain is no longer a problem. His company, Amprius, has raised quite a bit of dough in 2011. For more information on nanowires, visti en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanowire_battery

 

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